Ronald had recently been suffering from severe sight loss, a curse for an artist who has continued to delight with the oil paint and design of his pictures, colour exploding onto the surface or close toned subtleties. He was an exceptional person and rare phenomenon: an artist whose paintings never fail to ignite excitement and interaction between the buying public and the object of their desire, to own one!
Ronaldson was born 23rd September, 1919 in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1950 he married Marjorie Hickey and moved to Suffolk, where to all intents and purposes he led a conventional life for 34 years at West Suffolk Hospital, first as a laboratory technician then Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer. But in the quietness and regularity of his private life in a small, neat painting room at home he rejoiced in his passion for painting.
Although a figurative painter, Ronald rapidly embraced abstraction, using it as a tool in the design of his landscape and coastal oils and perhaps more obviously his still life works. He would rather a day out in Cork Street, over the National Gallery. This artist was no namby pamby amateur. Initially shocking fellow members of the Great Barton Art Group, founded by Gabrielle Stoddart, when not satisfied with his painting, the paint would be brutally scrubbed off, then re-loading the brush, he would totally change the composition, all with knowledge and consideration. The richness of paint integral to the atmosphere in the scene, his landscape subjects reflected his background of sea and mountains as well as the lush Suffolk countryside.
Ronald bought his first set of paints in the 1940’s when as a seaman in the Royal Navy they made a port of call to Cape Town and then continued as a self-taught artist.
He was always researching and listening to other artists especially his friend David Denby, whose fine and detailed painting Ronald much admired; also his patron Roland Suddaby, curator of Gainsborough’s House 1970-72 who offered him a solo show but typically modest Ronald declined. He had no time for the inadequate works described as the new Avant Gard, seeing them as pathetic distractions from the course of art.
Ronald hated fuss, but over the years he built up a solid exhibitions list from Northumberland to East Anglia. Spotted by Ronald McCausland White at Bury St Edmunds Art Society he exhibited regularly at McCausland White’s Phoenix Gallery, Lavenham, following on to include Suffolk Art Society at Gainsborough’s House; Laing Art Competition; Langham Fine Art and Chappel Galleries.
He was published in David Buckman’s Dictionary of Artist Since 1945; Dictionary of Artists of Northumberland by Marshall Hall; Artists of Walberswick by Richard Scott. He has exhibited alongside such artists as Colin Moss, David Mctyre, Audrey Blake and Richard Sorrell, settling into the English tradition of the romantic landscape artists. In his 91st year he was invited to hold the inaugural exhibition at the Edmund Gallery in Bury St Edmunds.
Always dismissive of an admiring public, it was interesting and wholly pleasing to see in late years this modest person became conscious of his pursuing admirers. Ronald was not anymore the civil servant who loved art; the metamorphous was complete, with panama hat and cravat – the artist had won and he revelled in the freedom.
Written by Edna Battye for Chappel Galleries. Edna and Władysław (Waj) Mirecki very much appreciate that they knew Ronald Ronaldson well and he exhibited with them consistently from 1988 to the present day. Ronald died in the West Suffolk Hospital in his 96th year, on Sunday 18th January, 2015.